Witness: Suspect in Smart case stalked other girls

AP News
Posted: Dec 07, 2009 7:46 PM

The estranged wife of Brian David Mitchell said he stalked other girls in Salt Lake City before targeting 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart in 2002, a psychiatrist testified Monday.

Dr. Michael Welner said in federal court that Wanda Barzee told him Mitchell followed girls on buses and kept track of them but couldn't get their addresses.

Barzee said Mitchell knew Smart's address because he had been hired to work on the roof of the family's home by Smart's mother, Welner said.

"This is how she ultimately came to be targeted," Welner said while testifying at a hearing to determine if Mitchell is competent to stand trial on charges of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines.

Defense attorneys said Mitchell is incompetent and cannot participate in his own defense.

The defense began questioning Welner late Monday and was expected to continue Tuesday. The defense also is expected to call its first witness, Dr. Stephen Golding, who found Mitchell incompetent to stand trial in a state case.

Welner said Barzee also told him Mitchell tried to get her and Smart to go along with a plan to bring other women into the group by storming a girls camp with machetes. Further details were unclear.

Mitchell used religion and his exaggerated sense of his relationship with God to justify his actions in the same way as a priest who commits sex offenses, Welner said.

He said priests who commit sex offenses often believe their religious position comes with entitlements.

"They routinely and dramatically distort their relationship with God," Welner said of research about priests who molest children.

In a tape of a police interview shown in court, Mitchell said Smart "had a glorious experience. She knows who I am. She knows I am a servant of the lord."

Welner said it takes an unusual person to brainwash two individuals. Barzee was significantly brainwashed by Mitchell and Smart was to a limited degree, he said.

In October, Smart testified that she was taken at knifepoint, forced to marry Mitchell within hours of her abduction and raped daily throughout her captivity.

"He told me he was a prophet," Smart said then. "He said he was the voice of God on Earth and that he would reign over God's children until Jesus came."

Smart, however, said Mitchell was "not spiritual, not religious, not close to God."

Smart, now 22, also said Mitchell's religious revelations seemed to come when he wanted something.

Smart was 14 when she was taken from her bedroom in June 2002. She was recovered in March 2003 walking a suburban street with Mitchell and Barzee, who has pleaded guilty to kidnapping in the federal case.

The competency hearing is expected to last through Friday.

Smart has not attended the current proceedings but her father, Ed Smart, has been present.

The competency decision rests with U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball.